What Are Microplastics, Where Do They Come From, and Why Are They Bad
Microplastics are very small pieces of plastic ( less than 0.2" or 5 mm) in length, that exist in the environment as a consequence of plastic pollution. Microplastics are present in a variety of products, from cosmetics to synthetic clothing to plastic bags and bottles. Many of these products readily enter the environment via waste streams. They can enter the waste stream as a result of product use which then enter the waste water stream. Think of residuals from personal care products that get washed down the drain. These can come from your cosmetics, hair care and body care products. Another way into waste water is when you launder synthetic fabrics. Microplastics also form from the breakdown of larger plastics; this typically happens when larger plastics undergo weathering from wave action, wind abrasion, and UV radiation from sunlight.
Microplastics consist of polymer chains, sometimes long chains and other chemicals. Chemical additives such as phthalates, polybrominated diphenyl ethers(PBDEs), and tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBPA), are typically also present in microplastics, and they have been found to migrate or leach out of the plastics after entering the environment. Microplastics do not biodegrade. So once they are out there in the environment they accumulate and they don't just exist or persist in water, but in the air as well.
The health effects of microplastics aren't completely known or understood and it is the chemical additives that can compound the negative effects more than just plastics alone. Microplastics are in the things we eat, put on our face and bodies, and in what we wear. Where we all can start and do our part is to reduce our use of things that contain or breakdown into microplastics. I know it can seem overwhelming so where do you start?
If you take one step today let it be to reduce your single use plastics. You can do this by implementing one or more of the following swaps:
- Ditch single use plastic straws and opt for paper, glass, silicone, or bamboo. Plastic straws are hard recycle due to their size.
- Get a reusable stainless steel water bottle to replace all those plastic water bottles you drink from each day. This switch can prevent up to 1420 plastic water bottles from ending up in landfills or the oceans and save you $1752.00 per year!
- Instead of purchasing disposable plastic cutlery choose bamboo.
- Finally please don't pack leftovers in plastic containers instead use glass and cover with reusable food wraps such as beeswax wraps, and silicone food covers.
Here at Jodora we have identified some great products that will help you make the swap. Shop the Kitchen collection for these swaps and more!
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